Vitamin E and beta carotene may be protective for the development of Parkinson's disease, according to new research. A better understanding of potential for the dietary antioxidants to contribute to reduced rates of Parkinson's disease was the goal of a study led by Fei Yang, M.D., Ph.D., of the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.

To do this, the group prospectively examined the relationships of the dietary vitamins C and E and beta carotene in 38,937 women and 45,837 men over a period of 15 years. During this period, there were 1,329 cases of Parkinson's disease. They found that dietary vitamin E and beta carotene consumption were associated with a lower risk for Parkinson's disease.

It is recommended that adults consume 15mg/day (22.4 IU) of vitamin E and not exceed 800mg/day (1,200 IU). Vitamin E is fat soluble, and the body needs to have dietary fat in order to process vitamin E. Getting adequate amounts is not difficult. Vitamin E can be found in oils and nuts. Sunflower oil, cottonseed oil and safflower oil all have at least 40 mg of vitamin E per 100 g of oil. Hazelnuts and almonds have 25 mg.

The recommended dose of beta carotene has not been established, but a suggested amount is 1,000 mg/day (1,500 IU). Fruits and vegetables having red, orange or yellow natural coloring have high levels of beta carotene. Carrots are good example, and one serving contains over 8,000 mg. Beta carotene is also fat soluble, and eating it with fat allows for absorption.

There are foods that provide both vitamins. A good example is a sweet potato, with 1.5 mg vitamin E and 2,000 mg of beta carotene. If a person wants to indulge and add butter or serve up the sweet potato as fries, the result is a little fat, a little vitamin E and a lot of beta carotene in one serving.

Many enjoy sweet potato pie but have been eliminating the crust because of the fat; adding it back may be the healthier way to eat the pie. You have the added bonus of vitamin C and vitamin A. But caution here as a slice has close to 300 calories, half of it from fat and lots of sugar.

Avocados are another means to get multiple nutrients. A whole avocado contains 3 mg of vitamin E and small amounts of beta carotene. But avocados also contain fat to help with the absorption of vital nutrients.

Eating half an avocado provides lots of nutrient as one half contains potassium (345 mg), vitamin A (43 μg), vitamin C (6.0 mg), vitamin E (1.3 mg), vitamin K1 (14 μg), folate (60 mg), vitamin B-6 (0.2 mg), niacin (1.3 mg), pantothenic acid (1.0 mg), riboflavin (0.1 mg), choline (10 mg) and lutein/zeaxanthin (185 μg).

But because it also contains high-monounsaturated fatty acids (6.7 g), it comes with built-in absorption means. All this with only 114 kcals or 1.7 kcal/g.

A popular and tasty way to eat avocado is as guacamole, which often has additional ingredients such as lime juice, garlic, onion, chilies, tomato and salt. So as long as one is light on the chips and heavy on the guacamole, this indulgence can be healthy.

It is nice to know that some of the foods we love — sweet potato fries, pies and guacamole may be good for us.